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More than 120 Million VoIP Subscribers Worldwide

Voice over IP (VoIP) now has over 120 million subscribers worldwide, and its growth looks set to accelerate as predictions indicate a $40 billion annual VoIP market by 2015, according to the latest market study by Point Topic.

Point Topic's data revealed a global growth in VoIP of 12.6 percent during 2010 and shows that there is plenty of headroom left for VoIP around the world.

"The growth of VoIP has been bumpy but shows signs of acceleration," said John Bosnell, senior analyst at Point Topic. "VoIP has all the hallmarks of a classic substitution commodity."

Referring to the above, for example, consumers are switching from the standard telephone system to an end-to-end IP service that provides voice services at a very attractive cost and adds other usage possibilities.

"France has been something of a test-bed for VoIP. Driven by an active supplier base that has made VoIP available to a large percentage of the population over the last decade, the providers have been rewarded with significant adoption," added Bosnell.

The result has been a rapid shift. In France by 2010, over 50 percent of telephony traffic originating on fixed networks was started on a VoIP phone.

The whole broadband market are potential VoIP customers, and there is good evidence that consumers see the service as a superior substitute for traditional PSTN calls.

"We expect there to be over three quarters of a billion fixed line broadband subscribers by the end of 2015, in theory all of them are targets for VoIP services," said Bosnell.

Given a number of assumptions, relatively consistent ARPU, regulatory easement and a cautious set of projections, Point Topic expect the global fixed line VoIP market to be generating at least $40 billion a year in five years time.

Their analysis on VoIP has so far focused on fixed line services, however Internet telephony -- where services such as Skype are active -- is a more mysterious market.

It is highly fragmented and generally served by companies who don't or won't report regular statistics and revenues. However Skype, the market leader, has had considerable publicity recently and does report some numbers.

"From these we estimate that there are more internet telephony than VoIP users, with Skype alone accounting for almost 150 million regular callers," said Bosnell.

However revenue generated is much lower. At the end of 2010 it had around 9 million paying users generating $8 a month on average.

"If Skype continues to grow as it has been, and manages to keep its ARPU at the current level, then it will be generating in the region of $2 billion a year by the start of 2016." concluded Bosnell.

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